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Burton Method 2010: How Much Is That Snowboard in the Window?

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

burton methodThis past weekend, I was basking in the sun, snow, shred and schmoozing known as the US Open. For a few days, all talk of Obama, recessions, dumped inventory, closings and layoffs were silenced by the roaring crowds. I got a chance to watch some awesome aerial aerobatics, spend time with friends and test a few 2010 snowboards.

One of the latest boards on my hot list was the Burton Method. This board is quoted as having more technology than the space shuttle, and “If you were handed the keys to Shangri-la, what would you build?”. With tech specs like titanium alloy edges, Alumasuperfly core (say that three times fast), S2 carbon vaporskin, including weaved, striated carbon fiber, the board is crazy light. They even removed the topsheet graphics layer opting to use a thin clearcoat to show the guts. So how much does this marvel of snowboarding cost? Anywhere from $1,300 to $1,600 depending on who you ask.

It appears that the price to snowboard has increasingly ratcheted up over the last few years. Now this is not your standard inflationary percentage, this is a serious increase in technology which results in increased cost. Or is it?

Burton is not alone. There are at least three to four manufacturers with snowboards close to or over the $1,000 mark including Lib Tech, Palmer, Head, Nidecker, and probably a few more that I can’t remember. As the demographics of the “average” snowboarder change (read: get older), so does the board lineup for manufacturers.

One of my buddies made a comment that custom longboard surfboards can run you upwards of $1,000 so for someone who is really into their “performance snowboarding”, it isn’t out of the ordinary to spend that much money on their passion. Another person chimed in on the lift about how the cost is nothing compared to an expensive road bike or mountain bike.

Warning, old man flashback! I remember when with $400 you could outfit yourself from head to toe in boots, bindings, board, jacket and pants. Not anymore, where high performance boards alone routinely cost upwards of $600.

The beauty of the overall situation for the customer is that by cutting through the hype, you can take advantage of the trickle down tech from these mega hoverboards. Things like EST/ICS, asymmetric highbacks, heat molded liners, sintered bases, smoother ratchets, better shapes and lighter cores all came from the top down. Once they were only on the expensive stuff, and now, all this product innovation makes it way to the Average Joe Shred. Amazing boards can be found for under $400 that will take you anywhere that you can dream from rail to pipe to pow.

So how’d the Method ride? It was surprisingly a fun ride. I took the 155 and the conditions were classic spring VT (ice in the AM and slush in the PM). It handled everything well, but was a bit too dead compared to the liveliness that I’ve come to expect from Burton. The best way to easily describe it is: a Burton T6 and a Vapor had a baby, but the Palmer Crown LE snuck in for a quickie too.

burton method

In the air, it was ridiculously light, like hit a kicker and totally overshoot the landing, light. After a few runs, I got a handle on the feel and started getting really comfortable with the board. I did a few rock taps and log jibs with no problems. You have to test the durability right? The new shape (which is really an old shape, using those blunt tips and tails) really works for me. I’ve been moving to smaller boards with a more blunted tip/tail shape so this fits in that category. According to the Demo Tent Dude, it’s lighter than a Chopper kids board (that’s with bindings), whoa. I’d say my biggest issue was fearing that someone would steal it, so I had to bring it into the bar with me to keep it safe.

My parting words? Let the AIG investment banker buy the $1,300 boards with their bonuses. In a year or two, you’ll see some of the same innovation in your $400 park deck. That’s probably the best ROI you’re guaranteed to see in the next few years. At the same time, I’m already scheming to see what contacts that I can hit up to secure one for next season.

Posted in Snow | 4 Comments »

The 27th Annual Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

burton us open

The Burton US Open is one of the longest standing snow competition traditions, helt this year at Stratton Mountain, Vermont, March 16-22, 2009. Not only is the USO the final stop of the Burton Global Open Series, where the top male and female in the series will be awarded $100,000 each, but the USO is also the culminating stop on the men’s TTR World Snowboard Tour and the top male will be awarded the TTR world title. What makes this event so special is that it is an open invitational contest, only the best of the best will prevail. Check out the events schedule below:

2009 USO EVENT SCHEDULE
All events take place at the Sun Bowl

Monday, March 16th
• Women’s Halfpipe practice: 10am-12pm
• Men’s Halfpipe practice: 12pm-3pm
• Rider Meeting: 3:30pm-4pm

Tuesday, March 17th
• Men’s Halfpipe Pre-qualifiers: 9am-2:45pm
• Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle practice: 1pm-3pm
• Rider Meeting: 3:30pm-4pm

Wednesday, March 18th
• Men’s Slopestyle Pre-qualifiers: 8:30am-4:30pm
• Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe practice: 10am-2pm
• Rider Meeting: 5pm-5:30pm

Thursday, March 19th
• Women’s Halfpipe Qualifiers: 8:30-11am
• Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe practice: 11:30am-2:30pm
• Junior Jam Halfpipe practice: 2:30pm – 3:30pm
• Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle practice: 9am-1pm
• Rider Meeting: 3:30pm-4pm

Friday, March 20th
• Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle Qualifiers: 8:30am-2:30pm
• Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe practice: 9am-1pm
• Junior Jam Halfpipe practice: 1pm-3:30pm
• Rider Meeting: 3:30pm-4pm
• Men’s and Women’s Quarterpipe Practice: 1:30pm-3:30pm
• Men’s and Women’s Quarterpipe Semi Finals: 5:15pm-6pm
• Men’s and Women’s Quarterpipe Finals: 6:15pm-7:45pm
• Quarterpipe Awards: 7:50pm
• Concert in the Sun Bowl: 8:00pm

Saturday, March 21th
• Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe Semi Finals: 8:30am-1:15pm
• Men’s and Women’s Halfpipe Finals: 2pm-3:45pm
• Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle practice: 9am-1pm
• Halfpipe Awards and Autograph Signing (in Sponsor Village): 4pm
• Concert in the Sun Bowl 4:30pm
• Rider Meeting: 5pm-5:30pm

Sunday, March 22nd
• Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle Semi Finals: 8:30am-1:15pm
• Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle Finals: 2pm-4pm
• Girl’s Junior Jam Finals: 8:30am-10:30am
• Boy’s Junior Jam Qualifiers: 10:30am-1:45pm
• Boy’s Junior Jam Finals: 2pm-3pm
• Junior Jam Awards (in Sponsor Village): 3:15pm
• Slopestyle Awards, Volvo Most Valuable Rider Awards, BGOS Champions Awards, and Men’s TTR World Champion Award: 4:15pm-4:45pm

RJD2 AND SANTIGOLD WILL BE HEADLINING ON THE CONCERT STAGE IN THE SUNBOWL FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS!

The bands are confirmed for the 27th US Open of Snowboarding. RJD2 will headline at on the concert stage at 8:00pm following the Quarterpipe Competition and Awards in the Sunbowl. Santigold will grace the concert stage at 4:30pm, following the Halfpipe Finals and Awards.

Posted in Snow | No Comments »

Burton Goes Direct: It’s on Like Donkey Kong!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

burton logoWhoosh! Bang! Ka-Boom! That was the sound of a bomb dropping around Vegas when the rumor then confirmation occurred. The 800lb Gorilla and the White Elephant in the room had a crazy one night stand in Vegas… and the offspring? Yep, the announcement that Burton is going to sell snowboards, boots and bindings (otherwise known as hard goods) online. As a direct result, they’ll be scaling back their partner links on their website. The Earth quakes, the hellfire burns, Belezabub walks the streets, and retailers run for the hills. Before you ask me when Nike is buying Burton, Let’s take a closer look at the facts:

1. The economy is in the crapper. To cut costs and boost profit, Burton will sell direct to the consumer. Cutting out the middle man increases Burton profit and in theory, connects the user to the brand directly. You’d do the same thing in their position.

2. By releasing stores from their partnership agreements, this legal change frees up stores to stock other brands, diversify, instead of stocking up on tons of Burton volume to hit minimum numbers that will have to be discounted come springtime. Minimum order volumes kill the industry.

3. Have you been to the Burton online experience recently? It’s a dynamic, Flash-filled, whizbang rollercoaster if you happen to be on a T3 line. But when you get to the online retail experience, you go from 2007 web experience to 1996 web experience. The cohesiveness of the online retail, those weird gnome and Stash yeti emails and the Reebok-esque brand experience is shaky at best. And all the crazy discounting like 30%-50% current products pre-Christmas, ever play drinking Jenga?

burton store

All of these factors give retailers a chance, an window of opportunity, to diversify their brand portfolios, reach out to more customers and have a fire lit under their asses. Embrace the green, create a core kiosk, enable live chat, explore Twitter! Those online properties like Backcountry, Sierra, TruSnow, Moda3 and ColoradoBoarder are three steps ahead of Burton with proven sales and hands-on UI data.

trusnow

But don’t rest on your laurels. Burton didn’t become number one by being a slow study. Honestly they should have done this years ago and it’s now time to play catch up. And guarantee you me, they’ll come guns blazing. If the 2010 dealer catalog is any indication, time to man up!

Posted in Snow | 1 Comment »

And Then There Were Three: Sabotage Stupidity Revisited

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Burton LogoThe 2007-2008 ski year began with 4 ski resorts holding on to their outdated policies of banning snowboarders from using their mountains. Having seen enough, Jake Burton called on snowboarders everywhere last winter to peacefully poach these policies away. Now the 2008-2009 ski year will start with just 3 resorts unwilling to release the aforementioned ban from their kung-fu death grip.

While Mad River Glen, Alta, UT., and Deer Valley, UT continue to hold their collective noses in the air regarding snowboarders, Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico finally relented and opened their resort to any and all in March of ‘08. “The time is right for skiers and riders to share the slopes here at Taos Ski Valley,” said Adriana Blake, Taos Ski Valley Marketing Manager. “At the end of the day, it’s not important how our visitors get down the mountain, as long as we can all enjoy this special place.”

As for the other three? Although there has been speculation for years that Alta would finally lift the snowboarding-ban, it’s still a skiers-only affair up there in ‘08-’09. However, I would guess Alta to be the most likely of the three to let the ban go. It would be a huge financial benefit to allow an all-access pass between themselves and nearby Snowbird opened up to both skiers and snowboarders.

Deer Valley? Honestly, at $83 a lift ticket……who cares? Maybe that’s just my slim wallet speaking but they can keep those ludicrous prices to themselves. With Park City Mountain Resort and The Canyons serving as very worthy alternatives for snowboarders in the area, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of pressure on Deer Valley drop the ban.

Mad River Glen….”Despite the fact that snowboarders account for 25% to 30% of all lift tickets sold in the United States, don’t expect Mad River Glen to lift its ban on snowboards any time soon.” That was an excerpt of a June ‘07 press release by Mad River Glen Marketing Director Eric Friedman. He was sure to include a “Dont hold your breath” line in the concluding paragraph of the statement just to make their stance crystal clear.

Banning snowboarders from resorts is an out-dated policy that eventually will go away. It may take some time, effort, and peaceful poaches, but with time the sabotage on stupidity will be complete. Jake Burton and the snowboarding community will make sure of it.

Posted in Snow | 2 Comments »

Sabotage Stupidity: Burton’s Power to the Poachers

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Can it seriously be possible that we are now beginning the year 2008 and there are still mountain resorts in the United States that are getting away with banning snowboarders from their hills? Unfortunately, and unbelievably, the answer is yes. While we are now down to the final four mountains that refuse to lift their snowboarding ban, it’s still not good enough. Mad River Glen, Vt., Taos, New Mexico, Alta, UT., and Deer Valley, UT. all somehow continue to institute a ’skiers only’ policy. Apparently the godfather of snowboarding, Jake Burton, has had enough.

Burton is encouraging all of us fellow knuckle-draggers to band together and peacefully protest this atrocity at each of these mountains. On Dec. 15 of last year, a sneak attack was led on Mad River Glen. About 40 white-clad boarders organized themselves at Burton HQ, conveniently located 45 minutes from MRG, for an early morning sneak-attack. They were armed with donuts and smiles, taking an early morning hike up the mountain and catching the elitists before they even knew what hit them. With cameras rolling, the brigade took to the hill while on-lookers below gathered to see their mountain being poached. Once the group made it to the bottom they proceeded to greet skiers with donuts and a friendly hello while staging a peaceful picket line in protest of the continued segregation.

In addition to the protest that already took place, Burton is encouraging snowboarders to poach other mountains and submit a video that documents their experience, and the best video will be awarded with a cash prize worth $5000. So far there are no user generated videos posted on the site. Is that a sign of a failed attempt at Burton trying its hand in social media marketing? Or is simply because snowboarders don’t care enough that only four out of the hundreds of mountain resorts in the U.S. don’t allow boarders?

I’m sure each of these resorts has their reasons for limiting their guests to two-plankers, but at this point those reasons just don’t fly anymore. There simply is no way that these mountains can continue to justify picking and choosing who is allowed on their slopes. Burton has it right as he continues to encourage more of these peaceful poaching-protests, even going as far to call it our “patriotic duty.” Poach away my friends, poach away!!

burton

Posted in Brands, Snow | No Comments »


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